I am a freelance illustrator and children’s author based in Bristol, UK. I have been doodling and drawing since way back in the early 1980s, lying on my parents’ living room floor, grasping a felt tip in my clammy little fist, through to my current profession, grasping a Wacom stylus in my clammy little fist. So, not much has changed, although I no longer lie on the floor to draw.
My debut picture book ‘The Bear Who Stared’ was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2017, and my second book, ‘The Lumberjack’s Beard,’ was shortlisted for the World Illustration Awards in 2018. Other books include ‘The Last Chip’ and 'Molly's Moon Mission' (due out in February 2019.)
Weirdly, the challenge wasn't so much finding a publisher - I was very fortunate in that Templar Books agreed to sign me up for 'The Bear Who Stared' not long after I had submitted it. For me, the biggest challenge was taking the plunge to leave my full-time job and going back to being my own boss as a freelancer. It's a decision I do not regret in the slightest.
Just read. When your kid is a newborn baby - just read to them. They may be more interested in how the book tastes at first, but introducing them to books early on creates a special bond, I think. It's not just about the words and pictures. It's the smell of the ink, the paper texture, the sound of a page turn - the whole multi-sensory package.
My next book is called 'Molly's Moon Mission' and is about a daring moth who aspires to fly to the moon. It just so happens to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Apollo XI (which was a major inspirational factor).
I'm a firm believer in daydreaming. Gazing out of a window is a crucial part of my creative process. The view from my studio isn't particularly stunning, but little everyday observations are what plant the seeds of stories to come. I saw some ducks flying towards the river in formation the other day, and it got me thinking about a story on migrating birds. It might not come to anything, but it's nice how ideas can present themselves like that sometimes.
The mountains and forests of 'The Lumberjack's Beard' were based on the time I spent in Wyoming as a student (a long time ago now!) Apart from then, I have always lived in cities, so I find drawing forests and valleys quite therapeutic. I think it's my subconscious way of telling myself to head to greener pastures. I don't think having a lumberjack for a next door neighbour would be particularly tranquil though!